An article by Alwyn Dow.
Twins have certain affinities that other family members may not have, so we take it for granted that ‘Twins’ are special and so it is with the ‘Twin Towns’ of Europe. The earliest forms go back centuries but their objectives have remained the same, namely good neighbourliness, cultural exchange, trade, peace and prosperity. They have often filled a gap when statesmen falter and citizens dither in the face of an uncertain future and momentous decisions.
A war ravaged continent was badly in need of healing in 1945 at the end of the Second World War, and it was twin towns and individuals who applied the balm as politicians sought to staunch the wound and prevent more virulent outbreaks. The prescription was novel, and in 1957 six sovereign states of the EEC agreed to economic (not just political) treaties, rendering armed conflict almost impossible in the future. Coal, Iron and Steel were at the high table but the nuts and bolts and a generous spirit of co-operation were provided by ordinary citizens in Twin Towns in Sussex and across Europe.
The next years were difficult, but despite much political resistance The European Community became a reality in 1967 and The UK eventually joined in 1973. This decision was confirmed by the EU Referendum in 1975 and followed by the 1987 SEA and the Maastricht Treaty of 1991. In 2007, Poland and other countries joined. Now in 2016 we are being asked to think again in another referendum so let us consider these points in the light of our own Twin Towns.
Firstly, the Arundel and South Downs Constituency boundaries were extended northward in 2007 increasing the population to around 77,000. Eight large towns account for half of this and the remainder is in smaller units. Our Constituency has only four towns that ‘twin’ compared to 40 in West Sussex. Secondly, Arundel does not have a twin town at present but is currently in negotiation with Montreuil sur Mer in France. Other French connections are Angmering/Oulstrehen, Hassocks/Montmireil, Petworth/Ranville Storrington/Roanne. Hassocks also has a link with Germany’s Wald Mittelbach, whilst Petworth has another twin at San Quirio in Tuscany and Storrington a further twin with Picatio Neamt in Romania. In addition, our main towns (including Arundel) have links with eight other towns and four other sovereign states in Europe and that must surely be beneficial for all concerned, especially so for children seeking knowledge and friendship outside of home base. Angmering sets a very good example in this regard as a school exchange is linked to their twin in Oulstrehen.
It may be that others do the same but I do know that cultural, sporting and tourist exchanges occur as well. Finally, I would like to suggest that these contacts and friendships are often more honest and durable than the vain promises of politicians. Therefore, I argue that we should support their commitments and courage and urge you to vote REMAIN on Thursday 23rd June 2016.
Alwyn Dow is a Jazz musician, retired educator, author and long time Labour Party member whom is currently joint chair of Arundel & South Downs CLP. Check out his website at : http://www.alwyndow.co.uk/